Ugandan society is, by our standards, fairly formal. The discipline in schools is strict; classes are very formal and structured and the children are not encouraged to relax or have fun. But today we had FUN as we visited Kikonge School.
Children walk 2-4km to get to this school of 262 pupils. Uniforms, school equipment, water tanks and electricity were provided during 2017/18 and livestock and seeds were distributed in the community. We were told how the children no longer had to walk the 4km to fetch water at the start of each day.
Ritah, the new head teacher has only been in place for one month, she appears to be a force to be reckoned with and the children certainly seemed to toe the line. Having not been in post during our last visit she obviously did not know what was about to transpire in her school today.
A tour of the school and lunch was followed by the usual round of speeches, then some lovely song and dance by the children, to welcome and thank us. More speeches and then it was our turn. We kept it short and told the children we would teach them a song. Time for some CHI.
As they formed a circle around us we showed them Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes, and then told them they must keep up with us. As we got faster and faster the Havoc increased, when we were all out of breath we opened the boot of the car and threw tennis balls and inflatable beach balls into the throng. By this time Ritah was hiding in her office, possibly having a nervous breakdown. Then Carmen joined in the drumming (the boys thought this hilarious), followed by our poor attempts at Ugandan dance. By this time any thought of discipline was long gone.
Eventually it was time to let the children have their porridge as we headed back to Ritah’s office where we were presented with gifts, including a live chicken!!!!
Then it was time to say goodbye as we headed off to meet with some of the recipients of the livestock.
On the whole this has been a very successful project, lessons were learned from challenges faced in Kimwany and most of the goats have been a blessing to the families who received them. We visited nine homes including that of Helen, she looks after seven grand children, their father has died and their mother is bed ridden with HIV/AIDs, all the children are in school and she is now able to pay some of the required fees.
Many of the children in the school require support to purchase uniforms, the fees which range from £3 to £10 per term depending on the class, include lunch, but many are still unable to pay.
The classrooms could do with a lick of paint, but on the whole the school buildings are sound and well maintained. We are told pupil numbers are rising, but more importantly, since these interventions, so is the church congregation.
All in all an uplifting day, although we are not sure we will ever be allowed back to the school.